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Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash.

Soldiers marching past the Kremlin.

NEVER CORNER SOMEONE. That's the lesson, a little boy learned from an encounter with a rat in a dimly lit, rat-infested alleyway of an apartment complex in late Soviet Russia. Little the rat knew, that the boy would become the future President of Russia. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad now know as St. Petersburg in the year 1952. The city had endured one of the most gruesome sieges of World War 2 merely eight years ago. The residents and infrastructure still bore marks of the brutal Nazi siege, buildings were damaged, basic essential services were still non-existent and the people were still traumatized by the war.

Putin's family lived in a communal apartment which measly measured around 180 sqft. They shared the apartment with an elderly Jewish couple. Little Putin, fondly called as Volodya, was of a slight build and used to chase rats with a stick in the dimly lit alleyways of the building. That's what was passed on as a game. Once Volodya chased and cornered a rat, with nowhere to go, the rat, in turn, pounced on him. Little Volodya was able to escape the rat but the incident was able to leave an inedible mark on his character.

A bust of Lenin and a mosaic of the hammer and sickle inside the Moscow Palace of Youth. Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash.

Many who know him intimately like his biographer Nataliya Gevorkyan, say that Putin has a specific mentality: When he is in a corner, he will strike.

"He said, 'I learned very well. I learned forever don't try to push somebody into the corner. They will jump. Because when you don't have [anything] to lose, you just—you attack,'" says Gevorkyan. "I think it's absolutely true about himself. When he's in a corner, that's why he's dangerous. He can jump. He will not say, 'OK, let's talk.' He will jump."

The attack can be either verbal or non-verbal. Putin's acrid comments are condemned globally but back in Russia, they are glorified. Putin's rash, thuggish demeanour garners him public support from ordinary Russians.

The infamous comment, "We are going to pursue terrorists everywhere. If they are at the airport, we will pursue them at the airport. And if we capture them in the toilet, then we will waste them in the outhouse. The issue has been resolved once and for all" is a classic example of belligerent Vladimir Putin.

A crowd watches the hourly changing of the honour guard at Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow 1986. President Boris Yeltsin ended the honour guard in 1993. Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash.

Considering the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, anti-government protests in Belarus and the uncertainty of the Covid-19 crisis, Russia seems to be cornered. Putin understands very well that Russia needs a buffer between its borders and the NATO alliance. Putin sees the anti-government protest in Belarus as an act of the West to install a West-favoring government, just similar to Ukraine. Analyzing the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan, Vladimir Putin sees an opportunity to expand Russia's sphere of influence and to undermine western powers in Asia. With the world's most advanced air defence system, the S400 slated to be delivered to India by the year-end, Russia's stakes are much higher in Asia. Pakistan's rebuttal by Russia and likewise China's by America puts India in the spotlight.

Concluding, the West needs to be more cautious than ever before and not undermine Vladimir Putin's intentions. If undermined, an unforeseen event similar to or worse than The Crimean Annexation is impending. Moreover, India needs to navigate the world superpowers craftily and lay emphasis on growing its influence in the South Asian subcontinent.

Keywords: Russia, Afghanistan, Afghan Conflict, India, Vladimir Putin.



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